What do hints actually do?

I have used the hints button and followed the hints to FindMyPast and found that the records matched my ancestor and clicked ‘agree’ for a match. But what is supposed to happen then? The hints list then shows how many have been confirmed. Is the information supposed to automatically enter or is it a case of I then have them to enter manually.

With FindMyPast hints you (a) review the hint to see if it is correct for your person and then (b) you enter the information manually to suit your style of entering sources and citations. There is no automatic entry.

Thanks Terry, that’s the conclusion I’d come to. It sort of makes me think what use hints are. I’m not a great fan of them anyway, but I knew that these were definitely correct. Think I prefer to go hunting for them instead- part of the pleasure.


Couldn’t agree more. I am not a fan of “instant genealogy”. The thrill of the chase, to further the hunting analogy is what gets it for me.


And more accurate. So many hints that come up for different genealogy products can be off. The algorithms aren’t as good as human knowledge, instinct and diligence. And of course so many trees out there are not correct.

BTW- turned off the hints. :grinning:


The whole points is, they’re hints and nothing more. As Terry says, you’re supposed to check them before you accept them. Many of them will turn out to be incorrect, so obviously you don’t accept them! But they do often hint you in the right direction

I’d never accept a hint without checking it. I prefer searching myself, but I was interested in what accepting them did. Personally I can’t see the point if you accept them and then that’s it. Might as well search myself and enjoy the experience of doing so.

What the hints actually do varies depending on the provider of the hints.

For Find My Past and My Heritage, RM sends a message to the server for the hints, the hints are calculated on the fly by the server, and the results are sent back to RM. RM displays the hints for you and you have to do any required data entry.

For ancestry, you have to load your RM database to ancestry as an ancestry tree before you can see any hints. Ancestry creates hints and stores them as shaky leaves in ancestry. These are the same shaky leaves hints you see in ancestry if you simply create your tree in ancestry without using RM or any other desktop software at all. When RM sends a message to ancestry requesting hints, then ancestry responds with any shaky leaf hints that already have been calculated. You see them in RM as WebHints. None of the hints are calculated on the fly. I’m not sure of the details because I don’t let ancestry data flow directly into RM, but there exists some ability for data from ancestry hints to be downloaded into RM somewhat automatically.

For Family Search, there is a single Family Tree shared by all Family Search users in the world. Family Search creates what it calls Record Hints for lots of individuals who are stored in Family Tree and most of whom will not be in your RM database. Any Family Search user can accept or reject those hints, and you will often find hints that are already approved by some other Family Search user even though you have not approved the hints at all. RM sends a message to Family Search asking for hints. Family Search checks to see if there are already any pre-calculated Record Hints, and if so it returns the Record Hints back to RM as WebHints. I’m not sure of the details because I don’t let Family Search data flow directly into RM, but there exists some ability for data from Family Search to be downloaded into RM somewhat automatically.


Most of the Hints that I receive are for events and records that I already have for people.
However I sometimes receive useful hints from Find My Past or My Heritage to a record set I may not have considered.
In other cases I have received hints from other trees that have proved useful. For example I may have tracked most siblings of a family in the UK, and a Hint provides possible details of a “missing” sibling in another country.
Where I can locate records or documents to verify the details provided by the Hint I add them to my tree.
If I can’t locate any records or documents I may add a note to the person in my tree for further follow up, and/or attempt to contact the owner of an online tree to compare notes.
In some cases tree owners reply, in most cases they do not.
In some cases I have been able to provide extra details to others, in some cases others have provided extra details to me.

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